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PhD Completions

2013

Dr Andy Hill

Policing Dyslexia: An examination of the experiences and perceptions of dyslexic police officers in England and Wales|.

The experiences of dyslexic adults in education as well as the ‘caring professions’ of nursing, teaching and social work continue to be fertile ground for academic study. This study extends the range of current academic knowledge of dyslexia in the workplace by exploring the experiences of dyslexic police officers across England and Wales. The context is the extension of disability-related equality legislation to the police service in 2004. The overarching aim of the study is to examine the experiences and perceptions of dyslexic police officers who are ‘on-the-streets’ and not in the classroom environment. This research is underpinned by the principles of the social model of disability (Oliver 1990) and in it, dyslexia is understood not as a stand-alone difference but rather as an aspect of neurodiversity (Cooper 2009).

A qualitative and exploratory research strategy was adopted. Data was collected by way of self-completed questionnaires and from face-to-face semi-structured interviews with twenty-five serving or recently resigned dyslexic police officers from ten police services from across England and Wales. The data was analysed using Layder’s theory of domains and his adaptive theory (Layder 2005 & 2013).

This study identified that the overwhelming majority of dyslexic police officers experienced a broad range of attitudinal, procedural and police ‘barriers’ to their full integration into the police organisation. All of the participants in this study had disclosed to their employing police service that they were dyslexic. Participant understanding of dyslexia and disability was deeply rooted within the medical model rather than the social model. The study identified substantial evidence of bullying, and discrimination was identified across the broad range of police services as well as significant failings in the provision of workplace assessments by Job Centre staff. Despite this treatment very few participants complained or sought redress. The dominance of the medical model of disability in wider society, together with negative aspects of police ‘occupational’ culture, were identified as key factors in the participants’ decision making processes. This research concludes that institutional disablism in terms of dyslexia is widespread across some police services in England and Wales despite the extension of the disability discrimination legislation to the police service. The research concludes with some recommendations for policy and practice.

 

Dr Charlotte Knight|

Soft skills for hard work: an exploration of the efficacy of the emotional literacy of practitioners working within the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) with high risk offenders

This study seeks to explore ways in which the emotional content of probation intervention with offenders is central to practitioner/offender relationships, but constitutes a discourse that has been largely silenced within an organisation that favours a business orientated model.  Questions addressed within this thesis relate to how practitioners understand, regulate and work with emotion; how the organisational ‘silence’ on the subject is maintained and reinforced; the costs of this silencing and how practitioners endeavour to surmount it in their daily working practices.  The term ‘emotional literacy’ (Killick 2006) captures the phenomenon of ‘emotion work’ or  the ‘soft skills’ that many practitioners use in pursuit of the ‘hard work’ of assessing, managing and enabling change in offenders. It is a qualitative study which has used a thematic analysis to explore the concept of emotional literacy in probation practice. The study is informed by a theoretically eclectic approach and uses Layder’s theories of social domain (Layder 2006), and of interpersonal control (Layder 2004), as frameworks for analysis. 

Findings from the research demonstrate that the practice of emotional literacy is significantly affected by organisational and contextual constraints.  The tensions inherent for practitioners in holding emotionally conflicting and ambivalent positions in their practice with offenders are illustrated.  There is evidence that practitioners predominantly exercise interpersonal emotional control through benign means. However, some concerns were highlighted by respondents of the risk of more collusive, manipulative or even repressive means of interpersonal control being deployed.  It is argued that in the absence of training and support in the area of emotions and   emotion management, most of this ‘underground’ emotional work is subjective, idiosyncratic, undervalued and largely unnoticed by the organisation. 

It is further argued, that the silencing of the discourse imposes a burden on workers, providing them with few opportunities to explore the implications of their emotions in practice, and limiting the effectiveness of the organisation in enabling offenders to change. The research also reveals some gender implications.  An argument is developed for the explicit building of emotional resources within the organisation to sustain the development, enhancement and support of emotional literacy in the workforce, and for an increased profile to be afforded these ‘soft skills’ in policy debates.

2012

Dr Victoria Knight|

A Study of In-cell Television in a Closed Adult Male Prison: Governing Souls with In-cell Television|.

In-cell television is now a permanent feature of prisons in England and Wales, and a key part of the experience of modern incarceration. In-cell television was formally introduced in 1998 and its introduction took twelve years to complete across the prison estate. Its introduction was not informed by research and no formal evaluation of in-cell television in prisons has taken place. This thesis, therefore extends the small body of prisoner audience research with an exclusive focus on capturing the experience of the use of in-cell television. The research aimed to examine the impact of in-cell television on social relations in prison life in one closed male adult prison. An ethnographic research strategy was adopted and was directly informed by Layder’s (2005) theory of ‘domains’ and his ‘adaptive’ approach was used to interrogate the data from interviews and from diaries. Data collection was carried out using two methods: semi-structured interviews with nineteen prisoners and nine staff, and nine structured diaries completed by prisoners.

The thesis concluded that in-cell television provides a key therapeutic resource in prisons. The study suggests that this resource is widely adopted and utilised by prisoners, staff and the institution to ‘care’ for prisoners in line with self-governance techniques and strategies. Television is exploited by prisoners and staff to enable forms of personal and inter-personal control. The thesis extends what current prison policies state about the provision of in-cell television with regard to formal policies on the incentives and privileges system for prisoners and also the interventions to promote and secure safer custody. The placement of television inside prison cells has resulted in significant shifts in the social, temporal and spatial characteristics of prison life and the types of encounters prisoners experience. Social relations within the prison setting are now routinely extended and stretched beyond the confines of the prison space as a consequence of in-cell television. Television normalises the prison cell and thus legitimates this space to hold prisoners for long periods of time, typically without structured activity. As a consequence, television’s place in the modern prison has also come to represent an unanticipated resource in the package of care for prisoners.

 
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